Donald Trump blames mental illness, the internet, social media and computer games for 'radicalizing'
Donald Trump called on Monday for a 'cultural change' in America to curtail gun violence in an Oval Office address, in which he denounced 'white supremacy' and 'racist hate' online he said is driving sick people to commit mass murders.
'The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online, consumed by racist hate. In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul,' he said.
Trump said that Congress must work together to prevent future mass casualties. He encouraged the legislative body to pass 'red flag' legislation and take steps to keep mentally ill individuals from getting their hands on firearms.
In a departure from a morning tweet, he did not endorse new background check legislation or bring up the topic of illegal immigration. Instead, he pushed for closer monitoring of online forums and social media channels.
And, in a major mistake, Trump referred to a shooting in 'Toledo' at the end of his address when a Sunday shooter actually targeted Dayton.
'May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,' he said in closing.
Earlier on Monday called for 'strong background checks' in the wake of two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton – then immediately tied gun control to immigration reform, despite both the murderers being white Americans and one saying he wanted to kill Hispanics because of an 'invasion.'
The El Paso suspect left a 2,300-word manifesto that raged about the 'Hispanic invasion of Texas,' posting it online minutes before the shooting began on Saturday at a Wal-Mart in the Southern border city. The FBI is treating the shooting as a domestic terrorism attack. In Dayton, Ohio, the 24-year-old shooter was also a white man.
Trump's move to link background checks with immigration reform was dead on arrival, with one senior Democrat comparing the president's rhetoric to 1930s Germany.
Trump's early morning tweet, ahead of an expected statement at the White House, said: ‘We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise for those so seriously wounded. We can never forget them, and those many who came before them.
'Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!’
Trump upped the rhetoric by blaming 'fake news' media for nation's 'anger and rage,' shrugging aside Democrats' weekend-long criticism that his rhetoric has fueled deadly rage.
Trump now faces an escalating crisis over the shootings, with political opponents accusing him of using the same language as Patrick Crusius, the alleged El Paso mass-murderer.
Even Anthony Scaramucci, his former communication director, said he was at risk of losing some of his key supporters. ‘This sort of rhetoric, this sort of disunity stuff, is at risk of overpowering the policy,' he told CNN.
Some Democrats have already dismissed Trump's idea of pairing immigration reform with background checks, with a few comparing it to Nazi Germany.
'What's connection between background checks for guns and immigration reform? That we have to keep guns out of the hands out of the invading hordes? Of less than human people coming across our borders? That's the implication,' Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler said on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' on Monday morning after Trump's tweet suggestion.
‘That’s disgusting. It reminds me of the 1930s in Germany,' he said.
Beto O'Rourke, who is from El Paso and running for the Democratic presidential nomination, also compared the U.S. under Trump to Nazi Germany.
'The only modern western Democracy that I can think of that said anything close to this is the Third Reich, Nazi Germany,' he said on 'Morning Joe.'
Another Democrat called Trump's proposal to pair the two issues a 'transparent play to do nothing.'
'Tying background checks to immigration reform is a transparent play to do nothing. There is no need to do them together. Background checks has already passed the House - w Republican votes. If Trump asked
McConnell to support it, it would pass in a week. FYI - he won’t do that,' tweeted Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has pushed for tougher gun laws after the 2012 mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 people died.
And Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer renewed his call for the Senate to bring up background check legislation already passed by the House.
'Instead of flailing around blaming everything under the sun, if the president is serious about “strong background checks” there’s one thing he can do: Demand Sen. McConnell put the bipartisan, House-passed universal background checks bill up for a vote,' he tweeted.
On Sunday, several Democrats running for president blamed Trump's rhetoric for inflaming racial tensions around the nation.
'When you give a safe harbor to hate from the Oval Office, it gives license to extremism all across the country,' Joe Biden said at a fundraiser in California.
'You reap what you sow, and Donald Trump has been sowing this kind of hatred in our country,' Cory Booker said on MSNBC.
The president 'is encouraging this. He doesn't tolerate it,' O'Rourke said on CNN.
He doubled down on calling Trump a racist in a tweet slamming the president's call to pair background checks with immigration reform.
'Only a racist, driven by fear, could witness what took place this weekend—and instead of standing up to hatred, side with a mass murderer's call to make our country more white. We are so much better than this president,' O'Rourke tweeted.